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Great Composers of India Honored

March 2009
Great Composers of India Honored

On the morning of Saturday, February 14, the auditorium of the Hindu Temple of Atlanta at Riverdale buzzed with the voices of young children and their parents, as they got ready to honor the illustrious composers of Carnatic music on the occasion of Great Composers’ Day. The Carnatic Music Association of Georgia (CAMAGA) has been organizing Great Composers’ Day for over a decade.   The annual event, which began as a half-day affair with about 30 participants, now attracts over 200 singers, and goes on for two full days. Great Composers’ Day celebrates the work of the four great composers of the Carnatic music tradition — Purandaradasa, Tyagaraja, Shyama Sastry and Muttuswamy Dikshitar.

The festival began promptly at 8:30 a.m., with individual performances by children, followed by a group rendition of the Pancharatna kritis, or the five gems of Saint Tyagaraja. The Pancharatna rendition was reminiscent of the singing and rituals performed during the famous Tyagaraja Aradhana celebrations in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu.

After the Pancharatna kritis, the younger participants resumed their individual performances. The singers, most of whom were children born and brought up in this country, demonstrated not only talent, but also a laudable interest in preserving the culture and heritage of India.

The second day of the festival began with the staging of a dance drama titled “Tyagaraja”, which depicted the life of Saint Tyagaraja. Kudos to Syam Yellamraju, the organizer, for assembling such a talented set of actors and the mammoth effort he and his troupe put into highlighting the life of the great composer. Easwar Prasad, who acted as Tyagaraja, gave a wonderful performance and Sridhar, who danced to some of the lyrics, was excellent in his abhinaya and footwork.

After performances that ran totally to over 23 hours, the event ended with the group rendering of the Utsava Sampradaya and Divya Nama Kritis and a final arathi by the priest. The Utsava Samparadaya Kritis describe the wedding ceremony of Lord Sri Rama and his consort, Sita.

Dr. Kalpana was the master of ceremonies. Mrs. Usha Balakrishnan led the group singing.

IACA’s Indian Republic Day Celebration

Although India became independent on August 15, 1947, it did not have a permanent Constitution until January 26, 1950. After long deliberations that lasted for 166 days, India’s Constituent Assembly adopted a Constitution for the country on January 26, 1950, making it a truly sovereign state. This day is celebrated every year as the Republic Day of India.

The largest celebration takes place in India’s capital, New Delhi, where the festivity is marked by grandeur, with spectacular parades by the different regiments of the Indian military in the presence of the President of India.

The Indian American Cultural Association (IACA) celebrated the occasion at its center in Smyrna, Georgia, with fanfare on the crisp winter morning of January 31. The mood was jubilant and many attendees showed up attired in colorful traditional Indian clothing.

Chand Akkineni, the program organizer, kicked off the event with opening remarks, introducing Sucheta Rawal, a community leader, who was emceeing the event, and Dr. Anantha Kamath, the newly elected President of IACA. Dr. Kamath talked about various initiatives taken by his team to bring younger generations of Indians to IACA. Mr. Tushar Sanghvi, the immediate past Chairman, introduced the guest of honor, Air Commodore A.I. Mehta, a high-ranking Indian Air Force officer who has served India for many years and was in the United States on an official trip. Cdre Mehta, who spoke about India’s growing military capabilities and preparedness unfurled the Indian and U.S. flags. The Indian and American national anthems were sung in chorus, led by Ms. Supriya Sreedharan.

The cultural program that followed featured music and songs depicting the richness and diversity of Indian culture. The star performers were Neera Bahl, Mehak Shah and her students, Smitha and Pallavi Rallapalli. Dr. Paddy Sharma, Chairman of

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